The main story at Noir Kei Ninomiya was hard to miss: The show opened with a blood-red look. Asked what that passionate hue, which dominated the lineup, meant, the Japanese designer explained that he’d been interested in gradations of red and how mixing them together resulted in black. But he wouldn’t be drawn into a discussion on his feelings. “I put everything in my collection,” he said. Underneath, he’d threaded, snapped, wound, clipped, tufted, frayed but certainly not sewed his way through the season as per usual.
But black — what he says he’s really interested in — was hiding everywhere. It appeared in the innermost folds of the packed red flurries that formed his body cocoons. It formed when transparent burgundy PVC leaves were layered. It came through on the edges of metallic puffball skirts, even through the surface of the fabric was both red and metallic.
That’s not to say there was nothing new this season. The tartan itself was new, and so was the Noir take on knitwear, which meant safety pins were threaded into each other to form a geometric “knit” dress, or a Rapunzel-like harness made of a braid of flaxen “hair” which turned out to be metal thread separated until it was fluffy and surprisingly soft to the touch. Also new was the collaboration between the brand and British footwear brand Church’s. Cue derbies studded with bouquets of safety pins or geometric patterns of tiny rivets used throughout the lineup.
You’d be forgiven for stopping at the topiary-like silhouettes that are par for the course with Ninomiya. There’s something of Pierre Soulages to the Japanese designer: the obsession with black, the adherence to a method, and the difficulty of talking about his work without either going off on wild tangents or getting mired in his process.